In the average 200church, how long do you think it takes a person to go from their first time visit to their first time involvement in ministry? A month? Two? Six? That’s a good question, and I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer to it, but I am willing to bet whatever the length of time, it’s too long! Why does it take us so long to use people, encourage their participation, employ their gift, engage their heart, and let them serve?
One of the answers is fear of the unknown. We don’t know them. We don’t know their past, their successes and failures, their abilities and competencies, or their theological understandings. We are fearful of whether or not they can contribute, or if they will be a drag or blight on “our ministry”. Perhaps we’ve been burned before by someone who got involved quickly, took charge, and then performed quite badly in a number of ways, damaging our credibility as a leader.
Another reason we don’t quickly engage people in serving is because all of our slots are full. Sometimes we have people who hold a death grip on their ministry position, are almost defined by it, and are quite unwilling to give it up. Their importance and identity are bound up in their ministry, so they are no longer serving it, it is serving them. In this environment, there is little openness for new people to step in and get involved.
Think about your church. Who is the most recent entrant into a ministry role? Do you have any new people serving in your Children’s ministry, Worship ministry, or Greeter’s ministry? Who is helping you administratively, custodially, or as a pastoral care giver or small group leader? Is there anyone involved in one of these roles whom you would peg as a recent attender?
If your answer to the previous question is yes, then ask yourself why. How did they come to be involved in that ministry? Who invited them to church or small group? Who made “the ask” and got them involved? How can you replicate that process with others?
If your answer is no, there is no one serving who is a recent attender, then ask yourself, Why not? What is keeping new people from getting involved in serving? Are there any new people you can even get involved?
In an article entitled Leadership and Church Size Dynamics – How Strategy Changes with Growth, Tim Keller writes “Generally, in small churches policy is decided by many and ministry is done by a few, while in the large church ministry is done by many and policy is decided by a few.” Keller notes that in a small church, there needs to be consensus before change happens, even though the pastor(s) tends to be the predominant ministry person. But in a larger church (200+) much of the pastoral care, discipleship, and program leadership is done by lay people, while decisions are made by a smaller group of leaders.
If we get new people involved quickly in serving, our church will grow more naturally, as the gifts of the Body are employed in Kingdom building. If we as pastors try to do it all ourselves, we stunt the growth of the church, the Kingdom.
In the next 200churches Podcast, Episode 6, we are going to talk about how to quickly engage new people in ministry. We are going to explain why, when someone shows the slightest interest or initiative, we try to get them involved the same day or the same week!
Jesus himself said that the greatest among us would be the servant of all. When we let our people serve, we build the Kingdom of Jesus! Who do you need to involve in your ministry, quickly?
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